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Why I say “no” to Video Hearings in Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Cases

As a License Restoration Lawyer who typically handles over 70 License Appeals per year, I only conduct live, in-person Hearings as part of my Practice. Beyond that, I have every case for I handle scheduled for Hearing in the Metro-Detroit Office of the Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in Livonia, where I appear before the same Hearing Officers again and again. I do not believe in “Video Hearings,” and will not schedule a case for one.

This article, shorter than those typically found in the Driver’s License Restoration section of this blog, will examine the main reasons why I feel so strongly about that.

 video conference2.jpgFirst, I believe that part of consistently winning any kind of case is a function of knowing the person before whom you’re going to appear. In a Court case, for example, I would much prefer to be represented by a Lawyer who is familiar with the Judge, rather than one who isn’t. The same holds true for License Appeals. Each and every Hearing Officer will first ask a core group of essentially the same questions, then turn to those areas that they feel are most important. And those areas differ a bit from Hearing Officer to Hearing Officer. This means that the Client who has been well-prepared for what is going to be asked will know what’s coming, and be ready for it. A person who has not been prepared, especially for those questions unique to this or that Hearing Officer, is likely to be in for a surprise, and there are seldom any pleasant surprises in Legal Proceedings.

Second, it has been my experience, over and over again, that when I meet with a new Client who has tried a License Appeal before they hired me, and lost, many of those losing cases involve video Hearings. Whatever the reasons for that, when one thing follows another often enough, we just begin to accept that “that’s the way it is,” like thunder follows lightning. I have seen no track record for video Hearings except a losing one.

Third, there is absolutely no way to introduce new evidence at a Video Hearing. To be clear, the procedure which I have established for winning License Appeals requires submitting all essential and fundamental evidence before the Hearing. However, in many cases, my Client will have school transcripts, or report cards, or letters of commendation or promotion, none of which is required under the rules governing License Appeals, and none of which the State particularly wants faxed as part of the initial Request for Hearing, but all of which is helpful. Instead, I present this evidence at the Hearing, directly to the Hearing Officer. In addition, a Client will occasionally come up with a new Letter of Support that was obtained after the initial Hearing Request was made. These can’t be given to the Hearing Officer at a video Hearing.

Fourth, and every bit as important, is that video Hearings seem cold, and impersonal. Even in the age of video chatting, nothing comes close to actual face-to-face contact. Beyond that general observation is the specific belief I have that when one person looks into the eyes of another, and watches the subtleties of their body language, it’s just better. This is particularly true, I think, when a person is genuinely clean and sober.

I believe in live Hearings so strongly, that I will not consider doing a video Hearing, even when it’s more convenient. Driver’s License Appeals from St. Clair County, for example, are often scheduled for video Hearings in Port Huron. I can get to Port Huron from my Office in far less time than I can get to Livonia. Still, despite that extra time spent on the road, I feel that it’s incredibly advantageous for my Client to have all the benefits of a live Hearing. Since my goal is to win, this is how I achieve it.

In fact, except for convenience, I cannot think of a single reason why a video Hearing would be better than a live Hearing.

My perspective is, of course, influenced by my success. In the year 2010, I won every single Hearing I conducted (more than 70, overall). There’s nothing like a 100% success rate to give credibility to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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